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Saturday, September 29, 2007
 
Franklin Chang-Diaz speaks about VASIMR and the exploration of Mars and beyond.


 
The Kingdom: A Film of the War on Terror


 
It appears that both nuclear power and nuclear propulsion are back on NASA's plate.
A key objective of the nuclear initiative is to undertake much more aggressive exploration of bodies like the ones Dawn is headed for. In the outer solar system these include the moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, as well as Kuiper Belt objects that are remnants of the solar system’s formation. The emphasis on planetary moons and small bodies, like asteroids, is as strong in the science community as enthusiasm for a return to the Earth’s moon.

Meanwhile, a new study sponsored by the respected International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) is proposing a new emphasis on the exploration of such small bodies and asteroids as even a potential alternative to a return to expensive manned lunar operations. The IAA sees this as a way to develop technologies for future manned Mars exploration without development of a lunar base, while also doing something exciting and truly new. The report has only just been released publicly. Two of the major goals of this IAA assessment are a human mission to a near-Earth asteroid and a human mission to one of the Martian moons, either Phobos or Deimos.

But NASA's new nuclear initiative also has equal application for possible future systems use on the Earth’s moon and everyone’s ultimate goal - Mars.

This suggests a lot of benefits, not the least of which is an enhanced capacity to actually explore the Solar System. Politically it means that the folks who have been grousing about the supposed "unbalance" between the exploration initiative and "space science" have just gotten a huge bone tossed to them. The benefit to the exploration initiative is obvious. And, as a plus, Bruce Gagnon will leap the length of his chain when he hears of it.


Friday, September 28, 2007

 
The Google Lunar X Prize: The Era of Private Sector Space Exploration Has Begun


 
John Edwards is not only wrong about what appears to be a prediction of a pogrom against young black men, but he is stark raving insane.


 
It's a Star Trek Festival over at National Review Online. Note The Needs of the Many Outweight the Needs of the Pelosians from National Review in the 24th Century, a celebration of A Conservative Star Trek, Is It Communist?, Steven Heyward finds the perfect candidate for President, even though he won't be born in Iowa for another two hundred years, and much more besides.


 
Hillary Clinton is proposing giving every baby born in the United States a five thousand dollar investment account that would grow over time and be used for college. Multiplied by four million kids born in this country per year, that translates into a new, twenty billion dollar entitlement. No word on whether the new entitlement will be means tested or will be available for children of illegal aliens.


 
Apparently James Hanson, NASA's most infamous climate scientist and an environmental hysteric, is being accused of taking money from George Soros, a far left billionaire who has funded a number of radical groups, including MoveOn.Org. This would tend to buttress the impression that Hanson's pronouncements on climate change stems more from a political agenda than actual science.

Hanson has now denying ther accusation in an article that uses the term "swiftboating."

"Swiftboating" is now the favorite verb made up of a noun used by the far left to describe when one of their ilk is called out on any kind of malfeasance. It stems from the 2004 John Kerry campaign when a large group of people who had served with him in Vietnam formed a group called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" for the purposes of calling Kerry out on his lies and exaggerations concerning his Vietnam service and his smearing of military veterans. The Swiftboaters accusations had the virtue of being true, so I think perhaps Dr. Hanson might want to search for a better word to describe what he wants people to believe is being done to him.


 
It appears that Richard Garriott is to be the next guest at ISS courtesy of Space Adventures and the Russians. Garriott is better known as "Lord British" to long time computer game fans for his Ultima series. He's also the son of Owen Garriott, a Skylab astronaut.

In the service of name dropping, Your Humble Servant briefly met Garriott back in the early 80s during a demo of one of the Ultima games.


 
John Carmack speaks out on returning to the Moon.


 
Some minor Democratic Presidential candidates were inticed into mouthing some generalities about space policy. It is academic (except that maybe Bill Richardson will become Hillary's running mate), but I noticed the "p" word being used by several of the candidates.

Jeff Foust, however, is not impressed.


Thursday, September 27, 2007
 
Michael Medved presents some inconvenient truths about slavery in America.


 
The Bionic Woman: A Dark Vision of Bionics, Nanontechnology, and Covert Operations


 
It seems that the Democratic Presidential candidates have lost their zeal for retrest and surrender.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007
 
Texas continues to be a leader in alternative energy with the first application for new nuclear power plants in over thirty years. Naturally the usual suspects are girding for battle. More.


 
I'm not sure why Dr. Prasad is down on space settlements. But of course he is wrong to think so.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

 
The latest book in Naomi Novik's "Dragon Riders of Brittania" series is now out:


 
The New York Times muses on the future of spaceflight.


Monday, September 24, 2007



 
Mike Griffin had a great deal to say about the "space economy" recently.


Friday, September 21, 2007


Thursday, September 20, 2007
 
Larger habitats and pressurized rovers that can go six hundred miles. Sounds like a cool start for a lunar base.



 
Your Humble Servant jousts with a Gregory Kulacki over China's Space Ambitions.


 
Scarab is a technology prototype for a robotic prospector that would search for resources on the Moon. It's principle investigator, William Whittaker, is assembling a team to compete in the Google Lunae X-Prize.


 
I guess Hillary Clinton is OK with smearing General Petraeus according to this vote.


 
Clark Lindsey has a report on a presentation of the Direct Launcher concept, one of the more well thought out alternatives to the Ares 1/V concept. There is, of course, the obligatory "Ares is going to be gone real soon" rumor, this time from spokesperson for Direct Launcher Ross Tierney.
Seriously, from three completely independent sources, I am hearing that change is coming by the end of the year and one of those sources (very reliable and senior NASA official who's name you would all recognize immediately) has identified precisely what is expected in the form of this change. Assuming they are right, Ares-I will be gone by Spring '08 and an alternative will already have been chosen. And they are (quote) "interested to see what DIRECT has to say with the AIAA paper".

Maybe. Of course if it does happens, I predict two simultaneous reactions from the usual suspects.

"See, we told you so!" and

"It still sucks!"


 
How about this for the premise of a film? A group of doplhins who detect mines and do other work for the US Navy have been captured. Their only hope is a rescue mission by Navy Seals. Not, by the way, well trained young men with machine pistols and gernades. But actual seals.


 
Left wing attacks on General Petraeus are having an effect. It's just not the one the left wing had imagined.


 
The idea of space based solar power is being revived by the US military.


 
Rudi Giuliani Goes After Hillary Clinton
The conventional wisdom has been that Rudy Giuliani, who had been out in front in most polls for the Republican Presidential nomination, would fade very quickly when people discovered that he is a social liberal, in favor of abortion and gays rights. That hasn't happened yet, possibly because Republican voters are able to concentrate on two more important issues Those issues are (not necessarily in order of importance) who will hammer the Islamo-Fascists the hardest and who will beat Hillary Clinton the most thoroughly.



Wednesday, September 19, 2007
 
Once again the Copperhead Caucus in the Senate has failed to pass a measure restricting deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. A great victory on the Congressional Front of the War on Terror.


 
How to Question the Patriotism of a Liberal Oddly enough, not a book by Ann Coulter.


 
Looks like Ahmadinejad wants to visit Ground Zero in New York. I say, let him go snd use it as the perfect venue to exercise Romney's suggestion of arresting him.


 
Belinda Stonach, Liberal member of the Canadian Parliement, has so much confidence in her country's healthy care system that she has gone to the United States for cancer treatment. This is, of course, not an option for Canadians who lack money.


 
It appears that college, especially the most pretigious ones, actually make one less educated when it comes to history and economics, according to a sixty question, multiple choice test given to college students/
At universities such as Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Berkeley, seniors scored lower on the test, available here, than freshmen, living proof of the broadening relevancy of the old Harvard adage that the university is a storehouse of knowledge because "the freshmen bring so much and the seniors take away so little."

Harvard seniors scored a D plus on average.

To test your knowledge against those from the Ivy League, the test is available here. Your Humble Servant, by the way, missed three out of the sixty questions, making a 95 or an A on the test. And all without the benefit of going to Harvard or Yale.


 
Speaking of deranged (though maybe like a fox) Taser Boy has his own web site.


 
Two very deranged people, Harry Reid and Bill Maher.


 
Michael Medved inveighs against the lie of European genocide against the American Indian. More of that is needed since, as Medved points out, a people ashamed of their past will be afraid of their future.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007
 
Apparently under Hillarycare 2.0 one could not get a job without proof of health insurance. Hillary Clinton claims it is not a "punitive" measure.


 
There has been some consternation started by an assertion by NASA Administrator Mike Griffin that China will beat us to the Moon. Some of it, by reading the comments section, is pretty nutty.

There is actually very little of the denial that China could do this or even is capable of a humans to the Moon program at all. This proves to be something of a vidication to Your Humble Servant who was warning about a new space race with Beijing long before it was cool to do so.

The nutty part of the comments section is that in order to beat the Chinese to the Moon, we need to abandon our current humans to the Moon program and do---something else, not exactly defined. It's sort of like aserting that in order to beat Nazi Germany we need to scrap Operation Overlord, which would be expensive and risky, and do--something else, not exactly defined. A lot of people are pretty good at trashing the current plan. Very few are any good at coming up with alternatives.

I think that recent events in the COTS competition prove that a lunar COTS, which some folks want to hijack from my Washington Post piece, would not work at this time. The primary reason for RpK being about the fall out is that it could not figure out how to tout alternate markets for its vehicle. It therefore had difficulty attracting private investment for a single market that may or may not materialized.

To be sure, SpaceX has been self financing. But it also has access to private cash if it is so needed because Elon Musk has figured out alternate ways that the Dragon can make money besides hauling freight and passengers to and from ISS.

The only market that a Lunar COTS could create at this time is hauling NASA cargo and astronauts to and from the Moon. Only when NASA establsihes a base and certain private markets emerge (from tourism to helium 3 mining) will a lunar COTS work. And that's only if the participants try to service more than just the NASA market.


 
Hillarycare 2.0 has been rolled out. Rich Lowry suggests that it is almost as awful as the first version.


 
John Murtha admits that genocide will ensue if we bug out of Iraq. It just won't be his fault.


 
Zoe Saldana, last seen as Anamaria in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, will be reporting aboard the star ship Enterprise as Lt. Uhura in the new, reimagined Star Trek film.

Addendum: More. And, Russell Crowe as the bad guy?


Monday, September 17, 2007
 
Alexander the Great starring William Shatner. That's right, you saw correctly, William Shatner.


 
Speaking of space races, the Google Lunar X Prize is still causing comment.


 
One of the many space races breaking out is, of course, then one involving tourism.


 
Twenty plus years after it was first proposed, the International Space Station draws nigh to completion. Who would have thought it possible?
Sure, nobody is happy with the ISS as it is. It’s in the wrong orbit to support a return to the Moon or a trip to Mars; it’s too small to support a large crew but too big to be just a simple manned orbital outpost. Yet is has gone from being a precarious toehold in orbit to becoming a substantial base for useful research and a proving ground for future exploration. The experience and expertise that has been built up in several areas, especially in joint human-robotic operations, is going to pay real dividends on the Moon and beyond.

Maybe, thugh I could think of easier ways to do that. Still it will be interesting to see if a lemon can become lemonaide.


Sunday, September 16, 2007
 
Clark Lindsey had been blogging very heavily about the Google Lunar X-Prize. He has a post about a previous attempt at a low cost, private lunar lander. Then he discusses low cost lunar projects in general. Then he links to a post by Jon Goff defending the Lunar Prize against various people who seem to feel the need to snipe at it. Finally he notices an endorsement from James Cameron and Arthur C. Clarke.

I have to say that I'm somewhat astonished at the degree of cynicism and negativity I'm seeing about the lunar prize. Let me point out that (a) there are other roles for the private sector to pursue in space besides just going to and fro. Private sector space exploration will be a major component in the decades to come if there is to be a space future. (b) The Lunar Prize represents the start of another market for private launch services. (c) The spectacle of people standing on the side lines throwing cheap shots while others quietly prepare to try great things is, at best, unedifying.


Saturday, September 15, 2007
 
How to keep Houston a space city in an era when NASA is no longer the sole player.


 
Scientific America has a great overview or Project Orion.


 
Development of rather exotic propulsion systems proceeds apace. These include a photonic laser thruster that its creator claims can get a space craft to Mars in a week and a sail propelled by an antimatter powered laser.


 
Alan Boyle has an update of commercial space news, including the latest on Rocket Plane/Kistler's woes and the Google Lunar X-Prize.


Friday, September 14, 2007
 
What if MoveOn.Org had existed 65 years ago?

Actually I think FDR would have locked the lot of them in a very nasty jail.


Thursday, September 13, 2007
 
Japan's SELENE is on her way to the Moon.


 
Well, the following could be posted under the moniker, "Isn't it beautiful when a plan comes together?" The new X Prize is a private race to the Moon.
The X PRIZE Foundation and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) today announced the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a robotic race to the Moon to win a remarkable $30 million prize purse. Private companies from around the world will compete to land a privately funded robotic rover on the Moon that is capable of completing several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to the Earth.

The prize is structured in a rather interesting fashion:
The $30 million prize purse is segmented into a $20 million Grand Prize, a $5 million Second Prize and $5 million in bonus prizes. To win the Grand Prize, a team must successfully soft land a privately funded spacecraft on the Moon, rove on the lunar surface for a minimum of 500 meters, and transmit a specific set of video, images and data back to the Earth. The Grand Prize is $20 million until December 31st 2012; thereafter it will drop to $15 million until December 31st 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation. To win the Second Prize, a team must land their spacecraft on the Moon, rove and transmit data back to Earth. Second place will be available until December 31st 2014 at which point the competition will be terminated unless extended by Google and the X PRIZE Foundation.

• Bonus prizes will be won by successfully completing additional mission tasks such as roving longer distances (> 5,000 meters), imaging man made artifacts (e.g. Apollo hardware), discovering water ice, and/or surviving through a frigid lunar night (approximately 14.5 Earth days). The competing lunar spacecraft will be equipped with high-definition video and still cameras, and will send images and data to Earth, which the public will be able to view on the Google Lunar X PRIZE website.

This is a stupendous initiative. And for long term readers of the Curmudgeon, somewhat familiar. Just by coincidence Your Humble Servant published a similar proposal in the Houston Chronicle in early June, text to follow:
The Lunar Robotics Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama will be staying put, at least for another six years at twenty million dollars a year. The office was originally slated for closure by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin as part of a cost cutting move. Unfortunately Dr. Griffin did not reckon on the wrath of Senator Richard Shelby, Alabama’s senior Senator. Senator Shelby balked at the closure and, working with other Senators and Representatives of both parties, successfully prevented it.

The office is currently managing the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite which scheduled to launch to the moon in late 2008. A third lunar probe, which was designed to land in the permanently shaded area of the Lunar South Pole, was also cancelled, though it is now said to be under review.

When the lunar lander mission, known as the Robotic Lunar Exploration Precursor 2, was cancelled, its estimated cost had ballooned from about four hundred million dollars to seven hundred fifty million dollars. NASA decided because of budget shortfalls caused by both Congressional action and the burgeoning cost of returning the shuttle fleet to flight after the Colombia Disaster, that a lunar lander was no longer needed nor affordable.

Unless the lunar lander mission, which was originally slated to launch in 2011, is restored, the Lunar Robotics Office will have little to do after the missions of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite have concluded. But if the lunar lander is restored in the same form it was when it was cancelled and NASA’s budget outlook remains the same, some very hard choices will have to be made. Something else will have to be cut. With the exploration program already slipping six months due to Congressional budget action and with Congress already complaining about cutbacks in NASA’s science and aeronautics accounts, there would seem to be very little give.

It is true that Congress could provide more money. Indeed there is some talk of doing that. Space supporters in Congress have complained that NASA’s budget is being shortchanged by the White House and that the space agency hasn’t enough resources to accomplish everything that is on its plate.

There is one way, though, to make the stress on NASA’s budget that would result from the restoration of the lunar lander a little easier. That would be to make the lunar lander a part of the Centennial Challenge competition.

The Centennial Challenge is an innovative program run by NASA in which teams of people compete to build and demonstrate various technologies that would be useful in the exploration of space for cash prizes. Challenges that have already run have involved tethers, beam power, vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, robotic excavation of lunar soil, and more flexible astronaut gloves. With the exception of astronaut gloves, none of the competitions have had a winner yet.

The Lunar Robotic Lander has been suggested for being part of the Centennial Challenge competition, but has so far not been funded. The way it would work is that a prize of—say—fifty million dollars would be awarded to the first group to land an instrument package in a predetermined area of the lunar surface, say the South Pole, and return data. NASA would define what sort of data it is looking for, but it would be up to the private competitors to determine how to obtain it.

If such a competition were to be funded, there would be no reason why the newly saved Lunar Robotics Office could not manage it. It would give the office something to do after the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite finish their missions.

Everybody would win. The private sector would get a chance to develop some innovative technology, which would be useful to both the private sector and NASA. NASA would get a lunar lander mission for a fraction of the cost it had originally contemplated. It would be a different kind of space race, in which the country would be the winner.

At the time, considerable comment was generated at Jeff Foust's Space Politics page and at Clark Lindsey's Space Transportation page.

Of course the Google Lunar X Prize is structured a little differently, more like the original X Prize than a Centennial Competition. But it's almost the same idea.

I'll have a lot more to say in the future, except for an observation and then a word of congratulations. Some of the commentary of my idea suggested that the fifty million I had pegged the prize purse to be would be inadequate. The Google Prize is twenty million, with some more money for second place or so. Of course SpaceX is offering a cut rate ride on a Falcon launcher, which should help considerably.

Finally, I salute the folks at the X Prize Foundation and at Google for having the vision and the fortitude to start this off. History was changed when the first X Prize was won back in 2004. Looks like we may see it happen again, with space exploration becoming democratized.

Addendum: Comments have already started over at Clark Lindsey's page.

Addendum 2: Alan Boyle has much more.


 
So far we know that today's announcement of a new X Prize has a purse of "tens of millions" that has been contributed by a "major fortune five hundred company" and concerns "space exploration." Keith Cowing, who apparently has some advanced word of the announcement, also has the following:
NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale will unveil the agency's 50th anniversary logo and participate in an X PRIZE Foundation announcement at WIRED Magazine's NextFest at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Sept. 13-16. The agency will showcase its current and future technologies, and NextFest attendees can meet the crew of the most recent space shuttle flight.

And:
This announcement will knock your socks off. Indeed, paradigms will shift before your eyes. Check in here after 2:00 pm EDT for updates.

I tingle with anticipation.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007
 
So much for the "consensus" in the scientific community that global warming is real, man made, and a cause for concern.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007
 
Japan will shortly be the latest country to reach for the Moon.


 
Charles Lurio has an interesting explanation why Rocket Plane/Kistler couldn't raise funding for its COTS space craft and is now in great jeopardy of imploding. it's all NASA's fault. Of course that doesn't explain why Elon Musk's SpaceX seems to have no trouble raising private capital for the very same COTS competition that RP/Kistler seems to have failed at.

Nothing is quite to irksome than to see people who pretend to be big boosters of commercial space who expect NASA or the government in general to guarantee the success of each and every commercial space company. I have news for such people. Most commercial space companies are going to fail, no matter what NASA or anyone else does. The is what the history of emerging industries tells us. And that's fine, because the companies that survive are going to change the world.

Addendum: Rand Simberg responds with one part confusion on his part and one part making my point accidentally. See my response to his response in an attempt to alleviate his confusion.

Addendum 2: It's remarkable how quickly Rand descended into name calling and ad hominem attacks. I find that is the usual tactic of someone who has lost the argument and wants to avoid facing up to it. And, really, allowing anonymous people who are too cowardly to reveal their real names to post libelous remarks is also very revealing.


 
Salt water as fuel.
John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn.

The discovery has scientists excited by the prospect of using salt water, the most abundant resource on earth, as a fuel.

Rustum Roy, a Penn State University chemist, has held demonstrations at his State College lab to confirm his own observations.

The radio frequencies act to weaken the bonds between the elements that make up salt water, releasing the hydrogen, Roy said. Once ignited, the hydrogen will burn as long as it is exposed to the frequencies, he said.



 
Today is the sixth anniversary of the Second Day of Infamy. It is a pity that even remembering that has become something of a political act, since some people, for their own purposes, would rather it be just another day. Even worse are the people who want to blame someone other than Al Qaeda.

To understand the world we live in now, the one divided from the old world by 9/11 as if by a sword, we offer the following:

And, of course:

Norman Podhoretz has a piece here. Texasbestgrok remembers.



Monday, September 10, 2007
 
While the Left, including Democratic candidates for President, are yelling for socialized health care, very quietly, some market oriented reforms are taking shape that could transform American health care for the better, without letting the government seize control of it from patients and doctors.


 
3:10 to Yuma, a western I think C.S. Lewis would have understood, for reasons stated in the review.


 
It looks like Rocket Plane/Kistler, having failed to raise private funding, is out of the COTS competition. One suspects that the extra money will now be distributed to some of the also rans, such as t/Space.

Addendum: More from Alan Boyle.


 
Frank Sietzen is worried about the Vision for Space Exploration.
I have usually resisted the temptation to give advice to people much smarter than me. But lately I have noticed a sensation that the Vision is flailing about in the overheated Washington air. Matched by silence from our President on the subject, everyone feels obligated to give their spin on this proposal. Many of these voices have their own axe to grind, their own nest to feather. Within NASA itself, the bureaucracy’s usual sense of entitlement has been joined by a vague malaise. People are arguing anew over the validity of Ares or the reusability of Orion. Issues supposedly settled by ESAS have begun to be doubted. The dread of the gap in human spaceflight from the Shuttle to the CEV hangs palpably over all. Thus I thought it might be helpful to impart some observations born of a long life history in thinking and writing about space affairs.

In the months that have passed since the Vision was announced, skeptics have traded their doubts for fresh contracts; many who once assured me that nothing would ever come from the Vision are now running at full tilt to get aboard the gravy train. Apollo on steroids? This, to some, looks more like a very large and elaborate all-you-can-eat buffet. Subtract Prometheus one year, get a lunar lander in the next. Why, we have just have to do this because we need the… jobs, bonuses, promotions, you just fill in the blanks wherever you please. Why? Well, it’s because we have a destiny to explore, with government money and aboard government spaceships. The public will just have to support us, like they always have. The people who truly believe that such a sense of entitlement belongs to spacefarers are in for a rude shock. Until and unless NASA transforms itself, opens itself up to the whirlwind of change that is all around, to use a phrase from my home own of New Orleans, “they ain’t nobody gonna go nowheres”.

To put it mildly, there is a feeling that the Vision has lost emphasis and momentum, that the passion for this work and goal has faded for some and has become instead yet another federal program to keep engineers occupied. The last time I saw a focus group report on what people knew or didn’t know about space exploration, less than ten percent ever even heard of the Vision. How does NASA expect people to support something if they don’t even know what it is? And when will NASA’s rank-and-file finally come to grips with the stark truth that while the Moon may be a destination, this isn’t Apollo at all. There is no Cold War enemy to vanquish. No charismatic young President to call us to arms. There is, instead, whining and grumbling and much gnashing of teeth.

The reader will notice that Sietzen does not offer any specific examples. My suspician is that he is paying far too much attention to the group of folks I call the Internet Rocketeer Club who have a great capacity to complain but not much of an ability to offer solutions or alternatives. While there have not been any recent (within the past few months) polling on VSE to gauge its continuing support among the general public, Congress and the White House still appears to be on board despite tabloid stories of unnamed drunk astronauts and diapered stalkers.

In other words, it seems that Sietzen is worrying just a little too much for very little if any reason.

Nevertheless, Sietzen does have some interesting marketing ideas that bear examination and discussion.


Sunday, September 09, 2007
 
Elizabeth: The Golden Age as a parable for our era. I can see that. England, like present day America, was struggling against religious fascisim--of the Catholic sort for Elizabeth, the Islamic sort today. And, as in today's America, there were people in Elizabeth's England who hated their ruler and wanted their country to lose.


 
It seems that MOVEON.ORG will place a full page ad in the New York Times accusing General Petraeus treason. Why? Strangely because he wants to crush the enemies of civilization in Iraq,


Friday, September 07, 2007
 
RIP: Madeleine L'Engle


 
Remembering 9/11


 
Apparently Osama bin Laden is ticked off that the Democrats have not forced our surrender yet. Bad enough they are craven appeasers, but they seem to be ineffective craven appeasers.


 
This is a cool little program. One can translate a web page or text into dialect such as redneck or cockney.

For example, the first paragraph of Children of Apollo, reads thus in redneck:
When reckonin' back Ebenezer Kawaxi, PHD, cornsidered th' whole thin' his fault. He had been an analyst in th' Soviet Seckshun of th' CIA's Intellyjunce Direcko'ate back in th' late '60s. His job was t'piece togither info'mashun gleamed fum field ajunts, satellyte recon, an' other sources an' write repo'ts on various aspecks of th' Soviet Union, as enny fool kin plainly see. Mostly them repo'ts corncerned mundane subjecks like projeckshuns of Ukrainian wheat yields, th' produckshun of a tracko' facko'y in Minsk, o' th' effecks of th' latess five year health care plan in Tashkent o' Volgagrad, cuss it all t' tarnation.


And in cockney:
Wen finkin' hammer and tack Paul Koraski, right, PHD, considered the 'oole fin' 'is fault. He 'ad been an analyst in the Soviet Section of the CIA's Intelligence Directorate hammer and tack in the late '60s. His Uncle Bob were ter piece togeffer information gleamed from field agents, satellite recon, and uvver sources and write reports on various aspects of the chuffin' Soviet Union. Mostly them reports concerned mundane subjects like projections of Ukrainian weat yields, the production of a tractor factory in Minsk, right, or the effects of the bloomin' latest five year 'ealff care plan in Tashkent or Volgagrad.


And in jive:
When dinkin' back Fuh'rina Kawuzki, PHD, considered da damn whole doodad his fault. Man! He had been an analyst in de Soviet Secshun uh de CIA's Intelligence Directo'ate back in de late '60s. His job wuz t'piece togeda' info'mashun gleamed fum field agents, satellite recon, and oda' sources and scribble repo'ts on various aspects uh de Soviet Union. 'S coo', bro. Mostly dose repo'ts concerned mundane subjects likes projecshuns uh Ukrainian wheat yields, de producshun uh a tracto' facto'y in Minsk, o' de effects uh de latest five year heald care plan in Tashkent o' Volgagrad.


Also available, Elmer Fudd, Pig Latin, Swedish Chef, and Hacker.


 
The X-Prize folks are being becomingly coy about what this prize is. However, based on some hints and wild guesses, I suspect that the goal is a private probe, perhaps either to the Moon or an Earth approaching asteroid.


 
Peggy Noonan has been unbecomingly catty and even occasionally shrill at times, mostly because she's turned against the war in Iraq. I would say that she has joined the Copperhead Caucus, but Noonan claims that anyone who uses civil war analogies to defend the pursuit of victory in Iraq is an "adolescent."

I have this image, by the way, of President Reagan, whom Noonan served very well, looking down from the right hand of the Lord where he doubtlessly resides at the antics of Reid and Pelosi and, shaking his head, murmuring, "There they go again."

In any case, in this piece where Noonan gives inordinate attention to libertarian nut case Ron Paul, she puts her claws into Mitt Romney to actual ammusing effect:
Mitt Romney is--well, he continues to seem like someone who's stepped from the shower and been handed a dress shirt by his manservant George. He's like a senior account executive on "Mad Men."

Mitt Romney as the philandering, cynical Don Draper. Meow!


Thursday, September 06, 2007
 
Looks like Leo Dicaprio wants to remake I, Claudius.


 
Several times in last night's debate Ron Paul almost started a riot. Paul keeps providing reasons why I can say in all frankness that I am proud not to be a libertarian.
Yes, I would leave, I would leave completely. Why leave the troops in the region? The fact that we had troops in Saudi Arabia was one of the three reasons given for the attack on 9/11. So why leave them in the region? They don’t want our troops on the Arabian Peninsula. We have no need for our national security to have troops on the Arabian Peninsula, and going into Iraq and Afghanistan and threatening Iran is the worst thing we can do for our national security.

Chris Wallace, who is proving to be ten times the journalist his dad ever was, called him on it.
So, Congressman Paul, and I’d like you to take 30 seconds to answer this, you’re basically saying that we should take our marching orders from al Qaeda? If they want us off the Arabian Peninsula, we should leave?

Naturally Paul retreated to his own somewhat warped view of the Constitution.
No! (Cheers, applause.) I’m saying -- (laughter) -- I’m saying we should take our marching orders from our Constitution. We should not go to war -- (cheers, applause) -- we should not go to war without a declaration. We should not go to war when it’s an aggressive war. This is an aggressive invasion. We’ve committed the invasion of this war, and it’s illegal under international law. That’s where I take my marching orders, not from any enemy.

Of course Congress did authorize the invasion of Iraq (something certain members of the Copperhead Caucus want us to forget) and it was also authorized under a number of UN resolutions. I would also take Thomas Jefferson's view of what the Constitution says over Ron Paul's. President Jefferson fought our first war with troublesome Muslims in the campaign against the Barbary Pirates.


 
The Copperhead Caucus (re liberal democrats) in Congress have hit upon a new tactic to try to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq.
Congressional Democrats are trying to undermine U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus' credibility before he delivers a report on the Iraq war next week, saying the general is a mouthpiece for President Bush and his findings can't be trusted.

Are they no depths deep enough for these people?


Wednesday, September 05, 2007
 
Have the Democrats just blown off the entire state of Florida?



 
Is The Path to 9/11 being kept from DVD release to protect Hillary Clinton?


 
Will his opposiiton to Cape Wing finish Teddy Kennedy? Oh, wouldn't it be delicious if it were so.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

 
Some more thoughts about the next fifty years in space. Here are mine.


 
Has a Texas company found a way to replace the internal combustion engine? Perhaps, but there are skeptics.


 
Will the next President order the building of an infrastructure that will make America a true space faring nation. Mike Snead thinks he should. What I would like to know is, what is meant by "infrastructure?"

Addendum: Rand Simberg is all excited because Snead does not mention the word "NASA." For reasons I mention in the comments, he shouldn't be,


Monday, September 03, 2007
 
A documentary about Israel that apparently does not suggest it is the root of all evil in the Middle East.


 
William F. Buckley's Blackford Oakes Novels: A Spy Series for Adults Crying Out to Be Made into a Film Franchise


 
Peter Seeger, whom I had thought was no longer alive, has actually brought himself to denounce Stalin in song, fifty or so years after Khrushchev did so in a speech. Better late than never.
I'm singing about old Joe, cruel Joe,
He ruled with an iron hand
He put an end to the dreams
Of so many in every land
He had a chance to make
A brand new start for the human race
Instead he set it back
Right in the same nasty place
I got the Big Joe Blues
(Keep your mouth shut or you will die fast)
I got the Big Joe Blues
(Do this job, no questions asked)
I got the Big Joe Blues.


 
Here is the Opus Comic strip that was apparently too hot for the Washington Post. It's as great a scandal as when they tried to censor "snuggle bunnies."


Sunday, September 02, 2007
 
Looks like Japan is getting back into the power projection business.
This ship in the same weight range of the European "Harrier carriers" (the British Invincibles, the Italian Garibaldi, the Spanish Principe de Asturias, and the Thai Chakri Narubet-classes). While this ship is currently planned to carry helicopters only, European experience (particularly from the British) has shown that this can be an effective platform for fixed-wing aircraft, like the F-35B. That makes the designation of "helicopter carrying destroyer" technically true, but in reality a useful fiction. In essence, they could act as small aircraft carriers or as a landing platform helicopter like HMS Ocean if transport helicopters are used.


Saturday, September 01, 2007
 
Yet another Moon landing announcement from Russia. Hitherto such could be dismissed as bluster, but now Russia is flush with oil cash and might actually be able to pull it off.